Since the invention of modern refrigeration and the proliferation of food transportation, those of us who might never have seen an orange let alone enjoyed glasses at our breakfast tables, now regard them with little thought. Every day of the year there are heaps of orange in the grocery stores, they are standards in household fridges and are likely to make an appearance in 3/4 of the lunch bags across the country. Modern innovations such as these have been good for our food supply (although that's fodder for a longer more complicated debate) and while citrus fruits travel and keep very well, the truth is there is a time of year when you should be eating them the most. And lucky for us, that's winter, when the next local fresh fruit is still 6 months away. The sight and taste of a sharp, sweet, acidic orange wakes us up and brightens up all the hearty heavy flavours of
winter. These are the glories of eating seasonally: you appreciate a fruit more when its at its peak of flavour and when you start to look forward to its season.
One of my favourite oranges are Blood Oranges. These flamboyant members of the citrus family have a reddish hued skin and a deeply coloured flesh with juice that looks well, like blood. Their season generally runs from December to March. When shopping look for those with a a good amount of red on the skin which signals a deeply coloured flesh and a nicely balanced flavour. Somtimes they can be completely orange and show very little visual clues to whats inside. While nothing wrong with these blood oranges their flesh will often be lighter in colour and possibly less rich in taste and sweetness. Too much dark red colour can also indicate an overly ripe or old fruit, so pay attention to colouring and a firm texture. The most common variety is the Moro. Their interiors will have a range of burgundy flesh to a mixture of deep orange, reds and pinks. These crimson beauties have a richness and complexity that's hard to describe with a nice balance of sweet and tart but with subtle raspberry flavours.
A bag of them found at my local Superstore inspired me to share a little of my excitement for them. I recently honoured my love of Blood Oranges by baking this amazing tart. It was a showstopper that's for sure. But even if you don't do that I hope after reading this you will seek them out and eat them au natural. Kids and adults alike love the constrast in colour. If you need something to dress up a cocktail or glass of orange juice for someone special this Valentines day I suggest serving some of these as their red colour seems appropriate for February 14.